Tag Archives: trending

Re-branding Santa

Santa Claus, as we know him today, is based on a fourth century Christian bishop, now known as Saint Nicholas, who was legendary for his generosity.  The most famous legend is that Nicholas heard about a family who was so poor, they considered selling their three daughters.  To save the girls from a life of prostitution, Nicholas tossed three bags of gold onto the family doorstep, thus providing dowries that would enable the girls to marry.

Saint Nicholas is thus considered a protector of children.  To celebrate this, a tradition emerged where children received special gifts on his feast day.  When this custom was brought to America, it became associated with Christmas and the name of the giver changed to Santa Claus.

Branding Santa

According to Wikipedia, the first appearances of Santa Claus wearing what we recognise today as the Santa suit, were drawn by Thomas Nast and appeared in Harper’s Weekly in the mid to late 1800s.  Fast forward to 1931, Haddon Sundblom portrayed Santa in the red suit as part of an advertising campaign for Coca-Cola.  It was this work that standardised the way in which Santa was portrayed from this point forward.

What next?

This year, Graphic Springs, a logo design company, invited suggestions on modernising Santa from 400 respondents from the UK and US.  A selection of these suggestions were then voted upon by over 4000 people from the UK and US.  The most popular suggestions were included in a graphic re-branding of the holiday hero.

Controversy erupts

Interestingly, media didn’t mind the thought of Santa going on a diet, using Amazon Prime, wearing skinny jeans and trainers, riding a hoverboard or in a flying car, or having tattoos and an iPhone.  Google “Rebranding Santa” and the one point most articles picked up on was that some 27% voted in favour of making Santa female or gender neutral. See this post and this post as examples.

As the comments on this brief statement suggest there are plenty of people who are offended by the possibility that Santa could be portrayed as anything other than male.  Some defend this with reminders of the ancient connection to Saint Nicholas.

It’s already been done…

In Santa Baby (2006) and Santa Baby 2 (2009), the Claus’ daughter, Mary, is called upon to save Christmas after her father takes ill and, in the sequel, wants to retire.  I suspect there may be other movies among the plethora of Christmas tales in which Mrs. Claus or another female plays the leading role.

What do you think?

Should consideration be given to re-branding Santa for the new millennia?  If so, what would you change?  Are there aspects of our understanding of Santa that must remain consistent (like gender)?  Why or why not?  We would love to hear from you.

Want to see more Holiday Posts?

Check these out: Elf on the ShelfRudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and Baby it’s Cold Outside.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

 

Elf on the Shelf

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not shout I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town.

The song was first sung on a radio show in November of 1934.  According to Wikipedia  it became an instant hit with orders for 500,000 copies of sheet music and more than 30,000 records sold within 24 hours.  Since then, this song has become a staple of Christmas music with recordings by over 200 artists.

He sees you when you’re sleeping…

The lyrics of this song provide a warning for children – Santa Claus has a naughty and nice list and is watching.  This becomes an interesting opportunity for parents to challenge their children to behave or face the possibility of getting coal in their stockings.

Enter Elf on the Shelf

Fast forward to 2005 and The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition hits bookstores explaining how Santa watches, through the presence elves who visit children from (American) Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve when they return to the North Pole until the next holiday season.  The book includes a small scout elf which is expected to be found in a new location every morning.

Creativity abounds

Thanks to social media, the world can look in on the antics of the scout elves as families share photos and videos revealing where these are found each morning.  There are websites devoted to highlighting “Funny Elf on the Shelf Ideas” and a quick search on Twitter gives examples like:

The controversy

Of course, not everyone is a fan of Elf on the Shelf.  Some find it overdone.  Others believe that teaching children that good behaviour is rewarded with gifts sends the wrong message.  There is also a plethora of adult humour that is mixed in with social media illustrations of Elf on the Shelf creating the potential for questions if children search #elfontheshelf.

What do you think?

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf at home?  Has become a tradition for your family?  Or do think this is seriously overdone and/or problematic?  We would love to hear from you.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

It is a classic Christmas movie based on a Christmas song which was based on a Christmas poem: Rudolf the Red nosed reindeer has been playing on television sets since 1964.  Some 54 years after the movie debut, #RudolfTheRedNosedReindeer has become a popular hashtag on Twitter, not because it is a charming classic, but rather because people are looking at the movie from a new lens and finding its content problematic.

What’s wrong with Rudolf?

One of the primary issues identified is that bullying in the first part of the movie is rampant.  Rudolf’s own father tries to hide his uniqueness.  When the other young reindeer make fun of Rudolf, the coach encourages them to shun him.  Even Santa suggests that Rudolf should be excluded, much like the ‘misfit toys’ who are sent away to an exile because they don’t ‘fit’ within the expectations of the Christmas Eve delivery.  Likewise, Hermey the Elf is berated and ostracised because he does not ‘fit’ with the expectations of elves.  As a result, Rudolf and Hermey find solace together as outsiders in the Christmas story.

Bullying

In the last two decades, a lot of energy and resources have gone into educating students on the realities of bullying.  In fact, we now have an anti-bullying day  and a variety of charities devoted to anti-bullying including Bullying Canada.  School boards use various programs that emphasise how to recognise and address bullying amongst their peers.  One could argue that the criticism of this movie highlights the success of these programs, demonstrating the extent to which a new generation recognises the ways in which behaviours demean and undermine the self-worth of those who are bullied.

“Political Correctness”

For some, however, criticising a beloved Christmas classic feels like political correctness gone awry.  It would seem challenging people to see the story as more than a playful Christmas tale takes the fun out of it.  As one Twitter user explained:

 

Opportunity for Conversation

What would happen if, instead of polarising the conversation, we could see it as an opportunity to further explore themes?  Teaching media literacy in schools educates students to recognise those spaces in which the media we consume can and should be critiqued.  A student who can recognise bullying in Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, might also be able to recognise the difference between “fake news” and the truth.  In what ways might this Twitter trend thus become an opportunity to explore how we can continue to critique the media we consume, so that we can be better informed as we participate in the wider world?

What do you think?

Has ‘political correctness’ ruined a Christmas classic or can the critiques become a springboard from which we can explore deeper themes through which we can better critique media in general?  We would love to hear from you!

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

Take your kids to work

I noticed on Twitter today that it was ‘take your kid to work’ day across the country.  Looking at #KidsToWork, there were loads of tweets of proud parents showing off their children in their workplaces as they were treated to a sneak peak of what their parents do at work.

Kids at work

My kid never participated in ‘take your kid to work’ day.  I don’t remember why.  Perhaps it was because dad is a teacher and it is easy to get a sense of what they do both at school and at home (marking is often all around our family room).  Mom, on the other hand, is a priest, a role which doesn’t necessarily have a typical day because there is a need to be available for pastoral visits, participate in meetings, prepare sermons, worship and other programming, preside at worship, and so on.  Some of these aspects would be inappropriate for a kid to be present and others would not be particularly engaging.

I suspect this dad, who works at the Canada Revenue Agency understands the dilemma of introducing your kid to a job that requires independent work that may or may not be particularly engaging for others:

Tailoring the day for the students

It would seem that some companies welcomed students and made a point of developing engaging programming that young people would enjoy.

CSIS Canada tweeted:


Baycrest provided experiential learning with an ‘aging suit’ according to this tweet:


Students at Alectra had some electrifying experiences:

What do you think?

Have you ever participated in ‘take your kid to work’?  If yes, what did that look like for you?  If not, why not?  Do you think that this is a meaningful opportunity for young people?  Why or why not?  To what extent do you think young people should be encouraged to explore careers through such hands on opportunities?  We would love to hear from you.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Health Curriculum in Ontario

There seems to be an unending stream of commentaries, opinions and news related to Ontario’s Health curriculum and what will be taught in September.

Why this has become an issue:

Following consultation with the ministry of education, parents, students, teachers, faculties of education, universities, colleges, and organisations including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Healthy Schools Coalition and the Ontario Public Health Association, the Provincial Government of Ontario released a major update to the Health Curriculum in 2015.  This new curriculum included information about mental health, online safety, and bullying as well as information about sex and gender variations and the impact of these on relationships.

Some conservative groups did not like this new curriculum and complained that they hadn’t been adequately consulted in its development.  To appeal to these groups, Doug Ford promised to repeal the curriculum and develop a new one with greater consultation.  Thus, one of the first acts of the newly elected government has been to repeal the 2015 curriculum and ask that boards use the same curriculum that was used in 2014 in the classroom until the new curriculum has been developed.

What is at stake?

The curriculum used in 2014 was actually developed in 1998 – before today’s students were even born.  As further discussed in this post, in the twenty years since that curriculum was introduced:

  • we have seen major shifts in the rights and privileges given to the LGBTQ2+ community;
  • Mental health is gaining in understanding and acceptability;
  • The prevalence of technology and social media has opened the way to new issues including cyber bullying, sexting and phishing which place young people at risk;
  • The #metoo movement has highlighted the importance of learning about consent;
  • Research has shown that children are entering puberty at younger ages than ever before.

These are the realities of students today.  Do we really want to leave it up to the media to give young people the tools they need to navigate this new environment as highlighted in this post.

How are people responding?

A lot has been said about the importance of sex education and updated tools students need to stay safe, feel included and make healthy decisions.  Some have shared their personal experiences including this person who was kept out of sex education and suffered abuse and this father who believes his daughter would be alive today if the updated curriculum were taught in her school.

School boards are also concerned.  As of writing this post, more than 20 school boards across the province have delivered statements highlighting the importance of providing up to date tools to navigate health, sexuality and relationships in today’s world.  In this regard, the Director of the Greater Essex County District School Board, Erin Kelly has stated:

“I assure parents, guardians, staff and community members that, regardless of the Health and Physical Education Curriculum being used, the Board will emphasize respect, inclusion and safety for all. We will continue to celebrate the diversity of all our students, support our LGBTQ community and teach about gender issues and acceptance and educate students on internet safety, cyberbullying and the importance of building and sustaining healthy relationships.” (https://www.publicboard.ca/Board/DirectorsMessage/default.aspx#/view/26)

What next?

There is still a lot of ambiguity around what might be taught in regards to health and physical education in September.  There are strong opinions expressed throughout the province about what should be taught and shouldn’t be taught.  Thrive! is a program which seeks to provide tools to help families navigate through the challenges and struggles of today’s world.  So we want to hear from you.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section and/or join us live on Facebook Tuesday, Aug. 7th at 7pm as we talk with a recent graduate about their thoughts on the health and physical education program.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Access to Information

This morning as I skimmed through my Facebook feed, I was drawn to the words of a friend: “There are some days when I wish I could close my eyes and go back to a reality when I didn’t understand and was ignorant to the impact”.  The comment pointed to this news article about the relationship between addiction and adverse childhood experiences.

In the first paragraph an addiction doctor says addiction shouldn’t be called addiction.  It should be called ‘ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking’ because of the way such behaviour is linked to adverse childhood experiences.  The article continues by highlighting the pedigree of the doctor as a way to clarify and establish respect for his position and then delves into his extensive research.

Information in the ‘stone age’

There was a time when in depth articles about health and well-being were limited to medical journals.  To the extent that the research was helpful for the majority, summaries could find their way into mass media, typically skewed by the perspectives of the authors.  For the most part, however, people relied on the wisdom and ability of their health care providers to stay on top of the latest medical research and developments.

Googling google

As I prepared this post on health education in Ontario, I looked back on what has changed in the past 20 years.  Doing so, meant googling a variety of issues to refresh my memory as to how things have evolved.  This included googling google to determine when this Internet search engine was introduced to the masses and when it formally entered into our vocabulary.

Since 1998, our ability to access information has shifted from card catalogues in libraries and encyclopaedias.  In fact, at this point, we could ask Siri, Alexa or Google virtually any question and have access to information almost instantaneously.  The challenge isn’t access, it is our ability to decipher the quality of the sometimes hundreds of references we are given.

Knowledge overload

We don’t even have to google to get information.  Internet news pages, social media feeds, and news programs of many different forms continue to inform and engage the masses.  Knowledge swirls around us like a storm of words out of which we somehow need to make meaning for ourselves and others.  This meaning-making is then expected to influence our actions, helping us to decide whether or not to eat eggs, which plants are toxic, how to save the bees, which renovations will give us the most bang for our buck, which places are the most volatile, how addictions should be addressed, and which politicians support which policies.

What about the next generation?

If, at times, all of this information feels overwhelming for adults, imagine what it is like to be a teenager with access to this level of information?  What impact does it have on the psyche of young people when they are scrolling through news feeds and social media and encountering information about climate change, violence, racial tensions, sexuality and more?  How do parents and teachers help young people make-meaning out of all that information?  What can adults do to help young people stay optimistic and engaged in a world that is all too often painted as problematic?  What examples do you have from your circumstances?  Feel free to comment.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

Finding Hope on Social Media

This past weekend, we celebrated Father’s Day.  This is our opportunity to give thanks to the men in our lives who make a difference.  While there were BBQs and gifts, dad jokes and beer in some homes, there were also places where celebration was hard.  Not everyone is blessed to have a good relationship with their fathers.  Not everyone has a father who is still with them.  Some fathers continue to mourn the loss of their child.

A not so happy Father’s Day

This morning I saw re-tweets shared by my teenager from Fred Guttenburg (@fred_guttenburg):

‘Dear America, Today I will begin Father’s Day by going to the cemetery to visit my forever 14 year old daughter Jaime.  It is over 4 months since she was murdered at school.  Today, I am too sad to focus on myself and so no need for Father’s Day messages for me.  Instead…everyone please post or tweet a very simple message that simply say’s “I commit to vote orange in November #OrangeWaveInNovember”’

Following the trends

More and more, I am acutely aware of the reality that young people can be inundated by social media trends and information which doesn’t paint a very good picture of this world.  How do you find good in the words of a father who mourns the loss of his child from a senseless school shooting?  What is hopeful about the Twitter trends: #IfIDieInASchoolShooting (which I previously discussed here) or #WhereAreTheChildren (which protests children being taken from those who are coming into the US looking for a brighter future).

Our teenagers have access to information, conversations and media which makes it painfully clear that world is not fair and robs them of the innocence that had been previously associated with being young.  Young people should bask in the knowledge that they have their whole lives ahead of them and yet, they are seeing too many examples of how this is not true or that what is ahead will not be overly amazing.

Looking Deeper

While these trends may be heartbreaking, it is important to continually dig deeper, to recognise that social media has given a space for voices to be heard – not solely the voices of the powerful but also those voices which could otherwise be easily silenced.  Through social media Fred Guttenburg has the space to encourage others to use the tools available to them to make meaningful change.  Through social media David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez and others are able to rally students to #MarchForOurLives.  Through social media we have heard women cry out #MeToo and #TimesUp.  Through social media we have heard the rallying cry #BlackLivesMatter and shown support for those grieving as we #PutYourSticksOut.

Navigating the Trends with our teenagers

Social media trends can feel overwhelming.  Compounding this problem for parents is that the medium can also feel new and foreign for us.  Still, it remains important for us to be aware of the kinds of information and stories to which our children have access through their various social media accounts.  Open conversation can create space to help all of us confront the anxieties of living in 2018 and open our hearts to hope for what is to come.

What do you do?

In our efforts to support our children through the images, conversations and uncertainty highlight by so many social media trends, what do you do?  Do you follow your children/teenagers on their social media accounts?  How do talk with your teenagers about what they are seeing on social media?  Where do you find hope?  How do keep from feeling overwhelmed by the content and/or the medium?

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/ and Follow us on Twitter @ThriveFamilies.

Twitter Trends

#IfIdieInASchoolShooting

I have to admit, I haven’t quite gotten the hang of tweeting yet.  Still, I have added @Thrivefamilies to the twitterverse because I know that this is where we can connect to teenagers and I expect my teen to help with this process.

One of the other reasons I have included Twitter as part of our social media presence is to monitor what is trending.  Via Twitter, it is possible for us to get a glimpse into the thoughts, struggles and hopes of teenagers.  To that end, my teenager asked me if I had noticed a hashtag that had grown in popularity this past weekend #IfIdieInASchoolShooting.

Using the Search…

For those who haven’t used Twitter, you can set your preferences to identify the most popular trends for a particular target area.  I focus on Canada.  It would seem my teen has a wider view and so, this morning I entered #IfIdieInASchoolShooting in the search.  The results made my heart break:

  • #IfIdieInASchoolShooting or any shooting, I want to be buried next to my brother.
  • #IfIdieInASchoolShooting I will be just one of the many kids who’s (sic) life meant nothing to our lawmakers. Just another statistic.
  • We, teenagers, are tweeting using #IfIdieInASchoolShooting. The saddest part about it? We have already had these thoughts – have already wondered if it will be our school next, what we will do if it happens to us, and how our community will (or will not) respond.

Why does it matter?

We live in Canada where gun control is far stricter than the US.  The odds of our teenagers falling victim to a school shooting is far lower than their American peers.  Still, they are watching members of their generation who, instead of feeling young and invincible, are genuinely concerned about the possibility of being gunned down at school.

We can tell our kids they are safe.  But they know that already.  What they are seeing is a world where life isn’t fair.  Where innocence is lost.  Where governments fail to protect.  Where big business is more important than lives.  They are witnesses to a symptom that the world is not as wonderful as the song claims it should be.

What can families do?

If our teenagers are following these trends, parents need to be courageous in our response.  We need to listen to their concerns and be honest about what is possible, what we can do to protect ourselves and support the efforts of their American peers to protect themselves.

While it is unlikely to happen here, it matters to some teens that it happens and that makes it worth discussing.  Conversation is always important, as is a willingness to support efforts our teenagers offer to advocate on behalf of those they see as vulnerable.  Our teenagers are reading #IfIdieInASchoolShooting.  It is up to us to engage them further so that they can find hope in the midst of a sad situation.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/